With two substantially similar brand new IPs coming out around the same time, one of them is going to emerge victorious, and one will be left in the dust.  Right now, it’s looking like Overwatch is going to be the successful one, as Battleborn has already had a permanent price drop and is struggling to break the 10,000-player mark at any given time.  Even if these two games aren’t as comparable as we might think (think DOTA 2 vs TF2), they still may struggle amongst the more casual gamers to carve out a unique identity.

What other games have struggled to clearly deliver a unique product that is different from its competitors?

Thursday, 3:53 pm – Ricky

I still remember when Borderlands launched. Pre-launch, everyone thought it was “just another shooter”, and to extent, that’s kind of what it was, but with some loot-driven elements from Diablo and some great characters and comedy. In fact, Gearbox mismanaged the media around the game so badly, that launched at a 30% discount ($40 here in Toronto, back when $60 was the norm). The fact that it’s turned into one of the best-selling shooter franchises of the last decade is a testament to “gameplay over marketing”. Still, think about the extra millions Gearbox could’ve had if they’d spent a bit more time articulating why their game was unique in the crowded shooter space.

Awesome that you wrapped up Watch_Dogs (that’s the real name, by the way) – Rise of the Tomb Raider is hopefully another fun romp on your new Xbox One. I’m still playing Uncharted 4 on the PS4, and will hopefully get back to Nathan Drake and his shenanigans this week. I’ll be booting up Witcher 3 again next with the release of the Blood and Wine expansion, so it’d be great to have Uncharted wrapped up with a nice bow by then.

Wednesday, 4:06pm – Gavin

A highly late post this week as Ricky is still away on vacation.

Firstly, I don’t care for Overwatch or Battleborn in the slightest.  OW has been getting good reviews and Battleborn is struggling for attention, but nonetheless, neither of them appeal to me (though I’ve been told that OW has a sense of humour I’d appreciate, and Battleborn is funny in the same way that Borderlands is funny [which makes sense as it’s a Gearbox title]).  I wish them both success.

It’s entirely a product of me not caring, but there are a lot of fantasy RPGs out there that I just can’t internalize.  Divinity: Original Sin, Pillars of Eternity, Torment: Tides of Numenera, Wasteland 2, Dragon’s Dogma (yes I know it’s a few years old now), I can’t tell what the difference is between any of them.  None of them have suffered for either my, or the gamer hive-mind’s collective ignorance, but for the life of me, they all just roll into one big game, even though I know that Torment hasn’t been released yet and is expected to be the grand-daddy of them all as it’s got the heritage of Planescape Torment in there.

Anyway, I finally, finally beat Watch Dogs over the weekend.  It deserves better than “meh”, but I’m not ready to call it anything spectacular.  My complaints have been registered in full on this site so I won’t go into them any more.  All in all, I put in close to 45 hours into the game, which is way more than expected.  I played it to substantial completion and am glad that I did so.  I expect that it won’t have staying power in the gaming conversation, but as proof-of-concept, it’s got serious potential.  I’m hoping for an Assassin’s Creed 2-type situation for the sequel.

Warning: spoilers for the game below.

The final mission was a crazy difficulty spike.  The hallmark of Watch Dogs is the ability to manipulate the environment around you by way of hacking.  This allows you to escape from pursuers, to use the environment as an offensive weapon, or to just generally mess with people.  But in the final mission, you lose control over this ability, and the antagonist has it.  So, you need to locate three specific spots on the map to upload a virus.  However, the police are chasing you, and if you are somehow able to lose them, they pick up on the trail again very quickly.  These two factors combine to create a situation that is incredibly difficult if you’re playing the game as a protective vigilante and don’t want to execute police officers.

It took me many, many tries to get it right.  Eventually I did and the game resolved itself in a typical cinematic fashion.  But that final mission just felt out of tune with the rest of the game.  Not that it wasn’t story-appropriate; just that it forced you to use an ability (escape and evasion in a vehicle) that it hadn’t really required of you too much beforehand.

I moved on to Rise of the Tomb Raider after that.  I’m 17% of the way through the game so far, and if you enjoyed Tomb Raider 2013, you will enjoy this as well.  It’s more of that, but with absolutely stunning cutscenes and really engaging hair physics on Lara.  Seriously, they are damned impressive.  Crafting is more robust, the environment is beautiful, and the story so far has been engaging enough to keep me going (though voice acting for everyone but Lara is a solid C- at best).

Bottom line: ROTTR is Tomb Raider 2013 squared.  If that sounds appealing to you, pick it up and play it ASAP!